March 4, 2013 – Ever wonder what is business strategy? Business strategy is a process by which we determine the answers to two questions, and then craft a plan to achieve desires results. The two questions are:
  • How much?
  • By when?

These questions are generally framed as goals and objectives, while the action plan that supports these two questions are called strategies and tactics. These are core components that must be included when answering the question, what is business strategy? Oftentimes, the strategic plan is divided into strategic themes – also called areas of focus, pillars of excellence, or some similar terms – which is how Harvard Medical School approached its planning process. Emory University followed a similar model, identifying five strategic themes on which to develop its 10-year plan.

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Breaking Down What is Business Strategy?

Regardless of the methodology used, it is vital that the organization establish a concrete definition for what is business strategy? At a minimum, goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics should all have specific definitions that are agreed upon by every person on the strategic planning team, similar to those established at the California State University at Fresno. Goals anchor the definition of strategy development and provide the organization long-term focus, while objectives provide the quantitative measurements for achieving the goals. Strategies and tactics are included in the answer to what is business strategy as those things we implement on a week-to-week and day-to-day basis that we believe have the best chance of achieving the objectives. The University of Illinois adopted four long-term goals aimed at making the university one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the country. In order to create a relevant and timely strategic plan that best defines what is business strategy, the organization must first collect and disseminate information that provides a conceptual framework to help understand current conditions. Michigan State University does this by focusing on:

  • Internal operational constraints;
  • The  external environment and the realities it imposes;
  • The organization’s intentions and priorities; and
  • The organization’s sense of direction.

The key to any strategic plan is to first answer the two important questions of how much, by when, and identify baselines and targets for each of its strategic plan objectives. Without measurable and quantifiable strategic plan objectives as part of the answer to what is business strategy, the planning process remains largely unfocused, with real results weak or non-existent. Set a long-term vision through goals, identify strong objectives to measure progress toward the goals, and then create actionable strategies and tactics that will move the objectives toward the desired results. That is the fundamental component of what is business strategy.

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Meagan M. Flores
Meagan M. Flores
Meagan M. Flores is the Vice President of Marketing for AchieveIt. A genuine 'problem-solver', when Meagan isn't nose-down in the Sunday Times crossword puzzle, you can find her leveraging her expertise spanning early stage startups to mature growth enterprises to comment trends and best practices related to strategy development and execution, leadership and revenue marketing.